Washing your face before bed is crucial, but cleansing technique is even more important. While washing your face with your hands is absolutely acceptable, a cleansing device can take some of the manual labor out of it. Cleansing brushes can also take your complexion one step further, by helping to tighten pores, firm skin, and boost radiance. Another benefit: When the day’s grime and makeup are completely wiped away, skin-care serums and creams are absorbed more effectively into the skin.
Over the past few months, I tested a variety of gadgets from affordable no-frills options to more complex (and pricey) allegedly anti-aging systems. Rotating nylon bristles tend to be the standard entry-level choice, but pulsating silicone devices are also having a moment. Here’s a roundup of my results after experimenting with each one.
The Affordable One
ProX by Olay Advanced Facial Cleansing System
Olay’s system comes with a dual-speed rotating brush head, a sample-size exfoliating cleanser, and two batteries. The L-shaped handle is small and lightweight, and the circular-shaped bristle piece, which snaps onto the handle, is slightly larger than a quarter. The bristles are soft and didn’t irritate my skin, but I did find this device was best used in the shower. At times, it was hard to control around my nose, and when I tried it over the sink it splattered water and soap in my eyes and sucked up and soaked the hair around my ears and forehead. Before using it, my pores were visible, and my skin looked oily with a few blackheads. After a few days, I did see a minor improvement in tone and clarity of my complexion. My biggest issue: where to leave it to dry between uses.
The Anti-Acne One
Mary Kay Skinvigorate™ Cleansing Brush
at Mary Kay
Mary Kay’s bristle head is nearly identical to Olay’s with one minor exception — it’s pink. Also, similar: it offers two speeds, includes batteries, and is hard to control around the nose area. My skin felt dry throughout the testing process, but these nylon bristles were gentle, and exfoliated well enough without leaving my face feeling tender or tight. I saw the same benefits: slightly improved skin tone, tightened pores, and overall better makeup removal than I could do with my own two hands and a cotton pad. People on Amazon also swear by this one for clearing up breakouts on acne-prone skin.
The Pink One
HoMedics® Silicone Facial Cleanser
at Bed, Bath, and Beyond
It looks more like a tiny wireless speaker than a cleansing brush, with a triangular shape and the ability to stand upright (a major plus for drying and storing in between uses). The tiny silicone nubs that cover the front side are a godsend for a germophobe like me because they don’t grow bacteria. The entire thing fits in the palm of your hand and feels weightless, albeit awkward at first. I found the angled tip with larger bristles best for cleaning around my nose and chin; the smaller flatter area worked for my forehead and cheeks. While I appreciate that the silicone material doesn’t spew water or make a mess of my hairline, overall it didn’t provide the same clean satisfaction I got from the traditional brushes. The first time I tried this I was wearing a full face of makeup, and it was still necessary for me to wipe off the excess with micellar water and cotton. It does come with handy pouch and charger which are nice benefits for travel.
The Travel-Handy One
Jafra Revitalizing Sonic Cleanser
A lot of cleansing brushes are tough to travel with because they’re clunky and don’t come with bristle covers, which really grosses me out. Jafra’s battery-operated device, however, resembles a razor, with a long handle and a tiny stand that allows the silicone head to dry hygienically while being covered. The purple brush tip is a unique oval shape that I found allowed me tons of control all over my face. My complexion felt clean, but not over-exfoliated. To turn it on you just twist the bottom of the handle to decide between two speeds.
The Softest One
Proactiv Pore Cleansing Brush
Proactiv’s tapered bristles sit on an angle, so it’s easier to maneuver around trickier areas like the nose. They’re also the softest of any device I tried, and infused with a charcoal material, a popular ingredient in skin-care products for its alleged ability to soak up toxins and impurities. The device itself is fairly basic with one on/off switch that also controls selection between two speeds. I liked that it stands up on its own thanks to a short chubby handle. It reminded me of sleeker version of a neck duster you’d see in a barber shop.
The Efficient One
FOREO LUNA™ mini 2
The Foreo Luna Mini is well, mini (it’s the smallest one here), but it gets the job done. It’s so compact that the entire thing can fit into your pocket, plus it only needs a charge once every five months — a big travel bonus. Like HoMedics’, this one relies on silicone nubs, which, according to the company, are 35 times more hygienic than nylon bristles. They deliver T-sonic pulsations to remove makeup and dirt, and you never have to replace anything. The one I tried is a bold shade of fuchsia, but there are six bright colors to choose from.
The Luxurious But Best One
Clarisonic Smart Profile Uplift 2-in-1
If you’re willing to invest in this category, go for the Clarisonic. It’s pricey, but it also has the most to offer. The Smart Profile Uplift set includes a cleansing brush head, a firming massage head, a body brush head, and a gel cleanser. The cleansing head is made up of soft bristles, and unlike the other devices here, this one beeps to signal when it’s time to switch areas of your face (read: cheeks, chin, forehead), so you don’t over-buff any one spot. The handle itself is much larger than any of the others I tried, yet it feels lighter and extremely well crafted. All in all, every time I’ve ever used any Clarisonic, my skin always looks fresh, rosy, and its cleanest. I just wish it came with a drying stand.
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